At the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate, only two of the ten candidates said they would scrap private health insurance. When former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke defended keeping some form of private health insurance — in addition to providing a public option — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed him for it.
“My goal is to ensure that every American is well enough to live up to their full potential,” O’Rourke said, laying out a totalitarian image of government forcing healthcare coverage on the populace. Yet he would not abolish private health insurance through Medicare for All, the plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
O’Rourke supported an alternative to supplement private health insurance, rather than scrapping it altogether.
“If you’re uninsured, we enroll you in Medicare,” he said. “but if you’re a member of a union, you preserve your health care.”
“I think the choice is fundamental,” he declared.
At that point, de Blasio shot back, “Private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans.”
“Those for whom it’s not working, they can choose other options,” O’Rourke replied.
“Why are you defending private insurance?” de Blasio asked, with all the force of “Why are you defending beating your wife?”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined de Blasio in supporting Medicare for All. “I understand, there are a lot of politicians who say we just can’t do it. what they’re really telling you is they just won’t fight for it. Well, health care is a basic human right.”
Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) brought in some common sense. “I think we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken,” he said. Like O’Rourke, he supported giving “the option of private insurance.”
Delaney rightly slammed Medicare for All as completely unworkable. “We’re basically supporting a bill that will have every hospital closing,” he said.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.